Nurses and other care home workers employed by a Bristol-based company are set to go on strike over pay later this month.
Registered nurses are among 100 workers at the four care homes owned by the St Monica Trust charity who have been threatened with sacking if they don’t accept “substandard” new contracts, according to a report by union Unison.
“Care will decrease and costs will increase”
However, St Monica Trust has defended its restructuring proposals, claiming it is facing a “campaign of misinformation”.
According to Unison, some staff face a pay cut of up to £400 a month as part of the proposed changes, with the longest-serving and most experienced workers likely to fare the worst.
At the same time, it says the company is advertising agency workers at an hourly rate that is £7 more than workers currently earning those jobs.
Staff at Russets and Sherwood, John Wills House, Charter House and Garden House nursing homes were told in March that they would have to accept the new contacts or be fired, Unison said.
Last week they announced a series of strike dates under the “fire and reinstate” policy, with the first strike scheduled for June 29 and others planned for July 2, 5, 10 and 11.
Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said: “A strike is always the last option. But when, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, an employer decides to cut the wages of already underpaid nurses, workers are left with no choice but to act.”
She added that firing experienced staff and replacing them with temporary workers would reduce the level of care in the homes.
“Relatives of those in need of care are rightly concerned about what these changes will mean. Agency employees who do not know or understand their loved ones are parachuted to replace experienced workers. The level of care will go down and the cost will go up,” she said.
In a statement in response to the strike action announcement, St Monica Trust chief executive David Williams said he did not recognize the threat of “fire and reinstatement” as part of the broader consultation process to which it is legally bound to follow.
“The Trust will continue to have discussions with those seeking further clarification on the proposed changes.”
“The proposals, which are currently being considered, aim to make the way of working across the Trust’s care homes consistent, improve recruitment and attract new staff to the social care sector,” he said.
He said the proposals had already been amended to include wage protection for staff for the next two years and that staff at the St. Monica Trust will receive a 4% wage increase this year, which is above the average for the health care sector. and social services lie sector.
He added that talks on the treaty changes are continuing.
“The Trust will continue to have discussions with those seeking further clarification on the proposed changes, which we hope will resolve any remaining concerns and enable an agreement that works for all,” he said.